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Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Fri Dec 22, 2017 12:59 pm

In the late 1980’s there was a lesser-known Amiga focused magazine from the United States called A.X. Magazine's Amiga Software & Information. The “A.X” stood for “Ami Exchange”, which the magazine used to call itself. A rather unusual name, but it called itself this (we believe) as this magazine’s value added benefit was it came packed with disks, if you subscribed at the proper level. And these disks were filled with freeware, shareware and software demos.

Case in point the November 1989 issue, seen below.
Cover of AX Magazine's Amiga Software & Information, November 1989 issue. Ooh! A 40MB Hard Drive Sweepstakes! I'd sign up for that TODAY, too. :)

The magazine itself was of a rather high-quality, if a bit thin, with full-color glossy pages. It no doubt had a very small audience reach. Back in 1989, the newsstand price was a shocking $14.95 (which would be like $30 in 2017 dollars - more than most hard-back books). You could get an annual subscription for $69.95 ($120 in 2017) for 6 issues. And the price was likely as high as it was because there was scant advertising - another reason the magazine was so thin, but not a bad thing necessarily from a consumer standpoint. Although, to be honest, I rather liked the advertising in the older tech magazines as it helped to inform me more deeply about the scene at the time.

This particular issue came with 2 disks, and I think most if not all did as well. My issue still has its disks entombed in their never-opened original plastic wrap, wondering if they’ll ever get used. (Probably not.)
Note the hand-written fix on the disk's label!

And here’s another indicator that tells me this magazine was a very small operation.

On one of the disks, the label apparently had a mis-print and someone at the magazine corrected it by hand with a pen. No doubt they manually corrected all of them that were ever shipped out. Even if their distribution was only a few thousand, that must have been a fun job.

One fascinating piece of history worth noting is the Editor’s column, written at the time by a man named Jay Gross. Keep in mind this is being published in November of 1989, which means it was likely written two months prior (that’s typically how long it takes a printed mag to get to store shelves from beginning to end). So this would have been crafted sometime near the end of the summer of ’89.

The column is such an interesting, desperate rant (if not the best-written), I’ve transcribed it here, word for word. I put it here, because for me personally, I had no idea feelings this raw were as out in the open this early (pre-1990s). A surprising and weird plea for Unix is tucked in near the end, for any of you Linux fans.

Jay is really disgusted with CBM in general - four years after acquiring Amiga - and begs for an acquisition (or, more accurately, free millions to make Amiga mighty). This was in 1989.

Jay’s Way
Jay Gross, the editor of A.X. Magazine, touches on some of what is going on in the Amiga community. Or rather, perhaps what should be going on.


Oh, how unfair life is.

First, there are these rumors, bandied about by reasonably trustworthy sources, that Commodore’s about to get bought out by a real company. Wonderful news! Then, disappointment. Nobody has announced any buyout plans, and nobody seems even the vaguest bit interested in doing so. Still, everything has pointed to a buyout being in the making. Everything? Consider these points:
  1. Commodore is a miserable failure at marketing anything they sell in today’s market, even the 8-bit machines which made their name a household word. Blunder after blunder heaps up, and lately, a heap of newfound profitability has gone down the tubes, too.
  2. One of this new crops of execs comes from the investment banking business. In a roundabout sort of way.
  3. Commodore is sitting on very powerful technology that could, in the hands of somebody competent to market it, make a pot load of money. Indeed, the company is almost uniquely positioned to take advantage of this week’s state-of-the-art in computer design, which just about requires the ability to make custom microchips to handle a variety of jobs, including reduce manufacturing cost.
  4. The market is advancing, quickly, while Commodore’s offerings have been sitting still, and this has been going on for a long time.
Now, does’t that look like a buyout would help things to move along toward reality? It does, indeed. Alas, there apparently is no buyout. Not even a sale of technology, any “joint venture”, nothing. Is CBM that undesirable? Surely somebody would like to pick up the Amiga technology for a paltry few million, patch it up to today’s computer standards, and make a tidy profit on a technology that will be very difficult to clone and nearly impossible to imitate, for the price.

Takers? Anyone? Well, not just anyone - check that. Somebody, please, with capital to invest in taking up the slack in the Amiga’s development left by four years of CBM’s neglect. And PLEASE, somebody with expertise in marketing, promotion and customer support. It’d be nice if you’ve never made an empty promise, too, but the computer business is riddled with that sort of thing, and Amigoids are already accustomed to that treatment from CBM, so it won’t be anything new.

Oh, another few requests. Somebody with a good name.

The reward, of course, is a rabidly loyal band of Amiga owners, and the finest computer hardware technology ever to strike the computer market. You don’t have to worry about anybody having a bad opinion about the Amiga. Most people have still never heard of it, and those who have respect it, for the most part. As for Commodore, they can go away to someplace where the dollar exchange rates won’t bother them any, and market their 8-bit toys.

A few words of caution, too. First, buy only the Amiga technology and anything associated with it. Forget the 8-bits. Forget any game boxes you find stashed around the old warehouses, and by all means forget the clones. There are better marketed clones that aren’t as nicely made, but then again, there are better marketed COMPUTERS that are dinosaurs compared to the Amiga. Clone sellers need not apply, in other words. The Amiga is (thank Heaven) Not a Clone. But do get the bridge board technology. It’ll come in handy for clinching the myopic sheep who insist on Clone compatibility.

Second, be sure you get the Amiga Unix box. Clones are out, anyway, and Unix is in, and the Amiga will make a dandy platform on which to run Unix, particularly X-Windows, already available.

Sounds like a good deal from here. Buy a full-fledged, GENUINE multitasking computer that’s already been designed and has a nice software base. Throw some money at it, to improve screen resolutions, increase buss width, etc., and do a good marketing job. Presto! Wealth and happiness. What could be simpler! Why, if there were a few million smackers in the bank near here, I might get a crowbar and. . .

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Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Fri Dec 22, 2017 3:52 pm

Two amazing close-up pics taken from the magazine above. Simply jaw-dropping artwork by Christopher Roy (which I've not been able to track down online, unfortunately). I think I may have to trace and recreate that Amiga 2000 myself. It's just gorgeously illustrated. The car ain't bad, either. ;)
Amiga 2000 pixel art. Makes my heart sing. Artist: Christopher Roy

This is one seriously sexy drawing. Artist: Christopher Roy

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Posted Fri Dec 22, 2017 4:40 pm

Any scans of this mag available online?

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Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Fri Dec 22, 2017 5:08 pm

From what I can tell, no. There's barely a single mention of it anywhere (until now).

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Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Fri Mar 17, 2023 9:48 am

You can find scans of this magazine in's commodore archive in the Amiga/Magazine section.

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Posted Sat Mar 25, 2023 7:45 am

The plot thickens! There's an outline of what's on the disks starting on page 14. This part caught my eye:
Workbench 1.4 - in Pictures • by David Czaya
For everyone who would like to catch a glimpse of what 1.4 may look like.
This is a rendering of the 1.4 Alpha Workbench.
There are two IFF's. One is of the Workbench with a couple of icons and an
opened window. The other is the Workbench with all the menus dropped down.
Some spacing liberties were taken here in order to show all the menus and
sub-menus on one screen.
The coverdisks are in the TOSEC Amiga collection under /TOSEC/Coverdisks/Commodore Amiga - Coverdisks - [ADF] - the name starts with Ami Exchange Magazine. I pulled the images off disk 1 from Volume 2 Issue 5, and converted them to PNG. They're attached here if anyone wants a look. It's not often you see screenshots of what appear to be internal Workbench builds! I found the clock and widget changes quite interesting as well as all the menu layouts we'd later see in WB 2.x.

There's also a BBS Tutor on disk 2. It simulates a connection (including dial DTMF tones) to a 1200 baud BBS. Worth a look if you're into that kind of nostalgia.

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Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Sat Mar 25, 2023 10:33 am

Very cool that you went down that rabbit hole, Steve. :boing: <3

I've been focused on the 2 gorgeous images that were single-page posters in that issue.

Funny - just last weekend I finally broke the seal on the disks and loaded them up hoping against hope that the IFF images might have been tucked away somewhere in some drawer.


Those disks are interesting, though.

But, I decided to do what I always do. I turned to ... LinkedIn.

I've contacted a few Christopher Roy's that seemed plausible (you'd think that was a fairly unique name). All have been the wrong guy. The painful part is I have to pay LinkedIn for this kind of user access, which is massively annoying, but when you get an idea in your head it is sometimes hard to let go.

It may very well be that in order to have one of these amazing pieces of art on my Amiga's screen some day I'll have to try and recreate it for myself. They wouldn't be perfect, but it could be a fun project.

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Posted Fri Apr 07, 2023 9:45 pm

I would like to read the review of the Spirit Technologies HDA-506! That along with a Seagate ST277 was my first Amiga hard drive connected to my Amiga 1000. It also has the Spirit X-Ram (8mb Octabyte in a nice metal external case). Amazing that it all still works!

Congratulations on a rare treasure! I totally missed that magazine back in the day.

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